What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/5

AZ: Arizona caps poverty aid at one year, setting strictest limits in U.S.

Federal law allows a state to keep a family on welfare for up to five years. But Arizona started to whittle that down after the Great Recession sent state revenue plunging.

LA: “Hollywood South” fleeing Louisiana for better deals elsewhere

Louisiana's once-booming film industry — dubbed "Hollywood South" — was off by as much as 90 percent this past year, according to the Louisiana Film Entertainment Association. The drop is attributed to the state's decision to wind down its generous incentives last July, scaring off moviemakers.

TX: More than 70 percent of Texas prisons don't have air conditioning

Prisoner advocates and Texas corrections officials are locked in a years-long battle over whether super-heated conditions in Texas prisons — temperatures in some cells can climb above 100 degrees — constitute cruel and unusual punishment and jeopardize inmates' lives. 

UT: Utah officials unsure why youth suicide rate has nearly tripled since 2007

Utah health officials are grappling with a rising youth suicide rate that's nearly tripled since 2007 and is now the leading cause of death among 10- to 17-year-olds in Utah.

CA: California wants to tie tax credits to diverse hires

By November, businesses will have to describe their efforts to ensure women and minorities have equal access to jobs when they apply for California Competes tax credits. 

FL: Florida cities reluctant to release public records

The city of Orlando isn't handing over 911 calls made during the recent mass shooting there although 911 calls are public records under Florida law. Government agencies across the state are increasingly reluctant to turn over public documents.

IL: Illinois medical marijuana program gets boost from governor

Illinois' experiment with medical marijuana has earned a boost thanks to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's approval of legislation extending the state pilot program for 2 1/2 years and including two more medical conditions.

MT: Montana lawmakers reject call for special session on campaign finance

Republicans said the emergency measure was necessary to fix what they call "defects" in Montana law governing campaign contributions and close a "loophole" that allows for cash from political action committees to flow to candidates without limit.

MN: Spending on lobbying in Minnesota nearly doubled since 2002

Lobbying interests have spent nearly $800 million since 2002 trying to influence government officials. The amount spent per year has doubled, and the number of new lobbying clients seeking to be heard has tripled, according to a newspaper analysis of Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board data.

NY: New York governor's start-up program, meant to "super-charge" the economy, has created 408 jobs

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s strategy to rejuvenate upstate New York is to lure big companies from out of state, cut business taxes and pour billions in state subsidies into nanotechnology projects from Buffalo to Albany. But it has produced just 408 new jobs in the past two years, even as the state has spent tens of millions of dollars promoting it. 

WA: Washington state's fastest growing counties are the most liberal

Seven western Washington counties that voted for President Obama, recreational pot and marriage equality grew 67 percent faster than the rest of Washington, and now account for 54 percent of the state’s population.

VA: New law says only adults can marry in Virginia

Children in Virginia will no longer be allowed to marry, even if they are pregnant or have parental consent. Lawmakers moved the state’s minimum marriage age from 13 to 18.

ND: Lengthy court battle expected over corporate farming in North Dakota

With a failed ballot measure that sought changes to the state’s decades-old corporate farming law in the rear-view mirror, a potentially lengthy federal court battle over its legality has arisen.

Tiny Houses Protecting Privacy